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Where I recap a successful run
This weekend was full. I’d love to qualify it with “full of somethings,” but it was just plain full. Friday, I took a half day at work, picked up my kids, had dinner with my mom, sister, and the family, and then played a show. On Saturday, I woke up early, drove down to Baltimore for a very fun day at the aquarium with the family and some good friends, drove back and played a show. On Sunday, I woke up early, ran a half-marathon, played a show, and then passed out from exhaustion.
However, that half-marathon I ran . . . well, it deserves a bit of a tale here.
I woke up, thoroughly exhausted, on Sunday morning. See, I got back from playing Guys & Dolls a little after 11, and I wasn’t feeling all that hot, so I took some cold medicine, and a Tylenol PM, and went to bed. Four hours later, I was awake, and an hour after that, I got out of bed just before the alarm went off.
I took a long shower1 (during which I used the neti pot to drain my sinuses and then proceeded to cough, productively, which was no fun), dressed2, and left to pick up my sister. Before heading into Hershey Park, we stopped to get some coffee, because, um, priorities! We arrived at the park at about 6:15 for an 8:00 race, which is normally where I like to be. It gives me a good 45 minutes to get my packet and my number, then another 45 minutes to warm up & chat, and then I’m off.
Only, well, there was no line when we got there . . . so it took me a whole minute to register. I had an hour & a half, and it was cold.
So Jessica & I walked around for awhile . . . we found a few people who ran the race the last year, and we walked around some more. We watched the walkers leave at 7, and then we walked around, peed a few times3 and started to line up. There are 5000 runners here, and while that’s not a huge number, there is only limited space at the start line – so they really encouraged runners to line up with their anticipated finish time. Well, I was hoping to finish in two hours, but I was coughing up mucous and really had my eyes on the Harrisburg Marathon (28 days after this run), so I decided to start the race with my sister, running like an asshole4.
So, rather than start with those hoping for a two-hour finish, I started with those who were just hoping to finish. I crossed the start line with my sister, yelled “I love you” over my shoulder, and went out to attack the course.
The thing about starting like I started, though, is that it really only works when there’s not “bunching.” And the first several miles, I had to contend with crowds . . . people were lined all of the way up about the route, and I had to slow down to avoid running people over.
The first mile I ran was well over 9:30, and the second one was even slower. I wasn’t going to be discouraged by my end time.
But, then the crowd thinned out a little bit, and I hit my stride.
That runner’s high? I was there.
I honestly don’t remember too many details between miles 4 and 10.
I talked with those who started conversations around me (usually about my shoes or running tights)5, but it really was just me against the course on a day with absolute perfect weather. Every now & then, I’d get a cue from Runkeeper telling me my time & distance, but I never was doing any of the calculations to determine where I’d finish. I was “running the course,” and I was happy.
I hit mile marker 10, realizing that there was “only” a 5k left when I saw someone holding a sign in the distance. It was the 2:00:00 pacers, and I spent the next three miles trying to catch up with them. At mile marker 13, I caught them, and left them behind as I started my sprint.
I crossed the finish line and the timer read 2:01:01 . . . but I knew it had to be at least 1:01 from the actual start gun to when my chip crossed the start line. My own time had me somewhere around 1:56:00 . . . and when I finally checked, I had completed in 1:55:38. I’m quite proud of myself.
The run was downright gorgeous – cold at the start, but once we started moving,the temperature was perfect. All run long, there was a constant breeze, but never enough to actually fight you.
The actual course, well, it was funky. See, they didn’t want to close a whole lot of roads, so we ran through a lot of the Hershey Park parking lots – which doesn’t really make for some great scenery. When we left the actual park, it was hillier than I anticipated, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Harrisburg or Gettysburg marathons. Unlike those marathons, though, there were few times that there weren’t observers cheering us on . . . and, really, there’s nothing better than to hear cheering as you’re running and then see a line of kids with their arms outstretched, asking for high-fives. I made it my mission to not miss a single outstretched hand.
At the end, there was chocolate aplenty, but as we all know, I’m defective and don’t like chocolate, so I got a “lunch bag” with an apple, pretzels, a large oatmeal cookie, chocolate, and chocolate milk – putting the latter two aside for my wife. I parked myself at the finish line and greeted Jessica with a hug when she finished.